For many fitness business owners, the growth plan is pretty simple. Open doors, hope people show up, figure out next steps. But successful owners know that having a rock solid gym marketing plan is a key differentiator.
Oftentimes, marketing can sound like a bunch of theoretical jargon without actionable tactics. For example, what does it actually mean to uncover your ideal client avatar or create solutions-based messaging?
The reality is, marketing isn’t rocket science and you don’t need a master’s degree to develop an effective strategy. You do, however need some form of strategy in this highly-saturated, micro-gym market.
Here are some easy-to-implement steps to help you get started.
Top Ten Gym Marketing Plan Tactics To Implement Today:
1. Define Your Ideal Client And Niche.
The fitness industry is an ever-evolving landscape. Your typical globo-gym might be trying to sell “fitness” to everyone. But in the micro-gym space, it’s more important than ever to determine exactly what you’re offering and the audience you’re targeting.
For example, are you aiming to be an elite training facility for high level athletes? Or are you trying to help the 40-plus crowd that simply wants to be fit and healthy?
Within limitations, it’s perfectly acceptable to have several target audiences. Since you can’t speak to everyone in every campaign, choose the groups that best align with your services.
Then develop gym buyer personas to help with your messaging. This means creating a profile of each customer type with corresponding characteristics. For instance, how old are they? Do they have a family? What about their hobbies, education or income? What problems are they trying to solve?
Being as detailed as you can helps you to speak more clearly and effectively to a specific person. And that way, you can craft the perfect messaging in your gym marketing plan.
Pro Tip: Looking for more help with starting your gym? The PushPress team is here for you. Download the Gym Startup Guide today!
2. Sell Solutions, Not Memberships.
When a prospective member reaches out for info, it’s a common mistake for new gym owners to talk about the “big three.” As tempting as it may be to rave about your coaching, community and programming, that’s not what they’re looking for.
Chances are, they don’t care about the science, so no need to talk about progressive overload and energy system training. Even your schedule and pricing might simply be a formality.
This person wants to feel better, look better, sleep better, etc. They want a solution.
First, they have to trust you. This happens through sincerity and relatability. If they can tell that you care, you’re empathetic and you truly want to help, they’re likely to buy.
Second, you can reduce the initial intimidation factor by giving them a glimpse into your services. This can be done by live-streaming a class or posting a gym social media video of a coach showing simple modifications.
Consider Susan, who’s been looking at your Instagram for a while now. She’s intrigued, yet still too intimidated to reach out. Then she sees a live stream of a class. In the class is a woman that looks just like her. There’s also a coach that provides detailed instructions to the group. Suddenly, she feels more confident reaching out to schedule a visit.
Ultimately, the goal is to help prospects see what your gym is all about and feel more comfortable reaching out for help.
3. Build A Strong Referral Program.
A referral program is one of the biggest opportunities in your gym marketing plan.
It’s one thing for you, as the gym owner, to talk about how great your gym is. But the message is infinitely more well-received when it’s coming from a friend. That’s why word-of-mouth is so powerful.
The first step is to ensure that you’re always delivering world-class service to your members. When you build a strong brand, you create loyal, long-term clients that want to invite their friends and family.
The second step is a big one and it’s often overlooked. You have to ask for referrals. It sounds so simple. But oftentimes, your clients don’t even realize how much you’d value their help in growing your gym.
Logically, asking for referrals from a new member isn’t the best approach. But once a new client has started to see some success, make the request. Your 90-day goal review sessions are a great time to do this. Ask them if they have a friend or family member who might be interested in training with them.
If you have built a rapport and trust with them, they’re going to want to help you.
Finally, give them an incentive to help. From a free shirt to some cold, hard cash, show them that you’re appreciative of the help.
Pro Tip: Make your appreciation public. Hand the referral prize to your member in front of an entire class and take a video for social media. This will make other members start to think about how they can score some goodies too.
4. Partner With (And Promote) Other Local Businesses.
Developing relationships with other small business owners builds a solid foundation for a strong referral network. This is a long-game strategy that will pay off over time.
There are multiple benefits to local partnerships. You can add value for members, improve retention and generate revenue. Plus, you might even get some fun perks or discounts.
Businesses in the wellness space always make logical partnerships but you’re only limited by your creativity in co-promotion. Need some ideas? Check out this recent blog for seven local businesses to form a gym partnership with.
5. Tell Your Clients’ Stories.
We all have those members that we wish we could clone. And when someone sees a person “that looks like me” at your gym, they’re more likely to reach out.
So tell your clients’ stories as part of your gym marketing plan. There are a variety of ways to do this, from written content to social media posts. Consider a 30-second video teaser that links to a longer-form YouTube feature. Or write a blog with a Q&A with your featured member.
Chances are, these may be the most-shared content you’ll produce. Your featured member will likely share the content with some raving words about your gym. Once again, this word-of-mouth promotion packs a punch. When their friends or family see the content, you might have some more new clients walking through your doors.
6. Take A “Help First” Approach.
How can a mindset result in increased revenue and retention? Ultimately, this circles back to the idea of providing a solution to your customer’s problem.
Regardless of the content you produce, taking a help first approach is a great way to attract new clients. From selling memberships to accountability, the human approach always wins.
Think about the person who’s out of shape and intimidated. Or the person who needs nutrition advice. Or the athlete who loves training but wants a more well-connected gym community.
Know your strengths and apply them to helping, versus selling. Tell your intimidated prospect exactly what they can expect to make them more comfortable. Ask the seasoned athlete questions to dig into the opportunities to truly help.
Another resource for a “help first” gym marketing plan strategy is your current group of members. Connect an existing client to a prospect. Ask your client to share their story about the struggles you helped them overcome. Have them help the prospective member see the solutions you can help with.
7. Create A Former-Member Campaign.
Members leave your gym for a variety of reasons, but a cancellation isn’t always forever. As gym owners, we sometimes take cancellations personally, despite the circumstances. But it’s important to be cordial and professional during the process so members feel welcome to return.
As part of your gym marketing plan, create a former-member campaign. Reach out to former members with email and text, and don’t just make it a single piece of communication.
Start with a simple text to check in and see what their current situation is. How have things been going since you left the gym? Follow-up with some updates about new programs or coaching options. (Remember: Share solutions.)
Then, offer them an incentive to return. Or, if they’ve moved and returning isn’t an option, offer to transfer that incentive to a friend if they’d like to refer someone.
PushPress Grow makes a campaign like this incredibly easy through the power of automation. Customize your campaign to fit your gym’s details and your brand voice. That way, it’s personalized and your former members know it sounds like you. Then select the recipients and hit send.
Pro Tip: Want to learn more about automating your lead generation and marketing campaigns? Book a demo with the PushPress Grow team today!
8. Run Paid Ads (The Right Way).
When it comes to paid advertising, ROI (return on investment) is the most important metric. Your marketing dollars should be bringing in business, so you’re not spending money for the sake of saying you’re advertising.
First, be specific when targeting. Especially on platforms where you can get highly specific with your audience, take the time so that the messaging matches the target. This is the difference between telling everyone that you help them “get fit” versus saying you fix chronic pain in adults over 55.
Once again, it comes down to offering solutions. When you’re paying for ads, craft a specific offer about how you’ll fix someone’s problem.
Further, a common mistake is targeting too wide of a geographical radius. Limit your radius to where 80 percent of your members travel from. The same is true when it comes to age. Target a specific demographic that your message will speak to best. Also, be aware of which social media platforms that specific age groups tend to use.
Second, choose conversion ads over cost-per-click ads. With conversion ads, Facebook will put your message in front of people who are most likely to take action. So if you set up your ads as cost-per-click, Facebook will push it out to people who do a lot of clicking, versus taking further action.
Finally, take advantage of retargeting campaigns as part of your gym marketing plan. You can set up your paid advertising campaign to re-target those people who have watched your videos or checked out your website. In other words, if someone has expressed interest before, your ads will serve to remind them of your services again.
9. Get a CRM.
In past blogs, we’ve noted that the best time to set up a gym CRM (customer relationship management) system was yesterday. The next best time is today.
A good CRM will help you competently manage the customer journey for for leads, current clients and prospective members. You’ll be able to send the right messages at the right time, ensuring that no one falls through the cracks.
If you’ve spent the time, money and effort to gather new leads and convert them to clients, it’s critical that you nurture them adequately. When your gym grows past its infancy, spreadsheets and manual follow-up can lead to overwhelm. So let the CRM handle the workload to free up your time for other tasks.
Pro Tip: Want to find out why PushPress Grow is the tool successful gym owners can’t live without? Book a demo with our team today!
10. Be Patient.
When it comes to marketing, data shows that on average, most people need eight to ten touch points before taking action. This means getting them to see your gym’s name, logo or message at least eight times before they turn into a member.
Many gym owners believe that if a prospective member doesn’t buy in after seeing a message once, they’re a lost cause.
The truth is, your gym marketing plan has to be a comprehensive, long-term strategy. You’ll want to combine a variety of tactics to reach potential customers multiple times.
And ultimately, patience is a significant factor. Once deployed, your tactics need time to work. Sure, there might be a rare time when an idea needs to be revised. But for the most part, playing the long game is where your results will show you what works best.
In Summary: Plan. Implement. Analyze.
Your gym marketing plan is an integral part of your business’ future success. Invest the time and effort into creating a plan using the tips listed above.
Once you’ve implemented the plan and have given it time to perform, start analyzing. It’s important to know your numbers. How many leads are you getting and where are they coming from? How many appointments and no-shows are you getting? What is your conversion rate and how many memberships have you sold?
Knowing your numbers will help you figure out what’s working and what’s not. This also indicates what’s worth the financial investment and what isn’t. This way, you can refine your marketing plan as needed to maximize success.
REMINDER: The Gym Startup Guide is designed to help with every stage of running your fitness business. Download your copy today!